11/05/2016 Wednesday in Parliament


Highlights of proceedings in Parliament on Wednesday 11 May, presented by Alicia McCarthy.

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its close. Join me live for the ceremony of prorogation.


Hello and welcome to Wednesday in Parliament.


Questions on corruption at the last PMQS of this session of parliament.


The Culture Secretary is called to the Commons ahead


of the publication of his plans for the BBC.


And peers are told - in no uncertain terms -


it's time to give up their opposition to the Housing Bill.


Enough is enough. It is time to stop.


But first, to a rumbustious Prime Minister's Questions -


the last before the end of this session of parliament.


It started politely enough, with tributes to the veteran


wildlife broadcaster, Sir David Attenborough.


Since we often celebrate great national events in this house, with


the Prime Minister wish Sir David Attenborough are very happy 90th


birthday and thank him for the way he has presented nature programmes


on television and awakened the ideas of so many people to the fragility


of our ecosystem and educated a whole generation. I certainly join


the right honourable gentleman in wishing Sir David Attenborough are


happy birthday. Many of us feel we grew up with him as our teacher on


the environment and natural world. I am proud to say the Royal Arctic


ship will be named after David Attenborough. There was strong


support for Boaty McBoatface. I think the submarine on the boat will


be named Boaty McBoatface. But with the niceties over MPs


turned to the subject of corruption. On Tuesday, the Prime Minister


was caught on camera telling the Queen that Nigeria


and Afghanistan were 'possibly the two most corrupt countries


in the world.' Both states are due to attend


an anti-corruption summit in London. David Cameron's comments


were raised right at the start of Prime Minister's


Questions by a Labour MP. Even fantastically corrupt Nigeria


is asking Britain to clean up its act and introduce beneficial


ownership registers in overseas territories. Will the Prime Minister


achieve this tomorrow at the anti-corruption Summit? First of all


I better check the microphone is on before speaking, that is probably a


good idea. I thank the honourable gentleman for his question. The


answer to his question is yes. We have asked three things of the


overseas territories and Crown dependencies, automatic exchange of


tax information, common reporting standard for national companies and


central beneficial ownership registries so we know what companies


are based there. They have delivered on the first two and they will be


following an delivery on the third. That is what he asked for that is


exactly what he's getting. It was a subject picked up


by the Labour leader, What he will do about the UK


administers tax havens who receive large amounts of money from dodgy


sources which should and must be closed down, as should any tax


evasion in the City of London. We need a British government that is


prepared to chase down this level of corruption. This government has done


more than any previous government to deal with this issue of making sure


that our overseas territories and Crown dependencies are not tax


havens but behave in a responsible way.


The SNP leader at Westminster raised the recent


elections, before turning to the corruption issue.


The Prime Minister's government was elected with 37 cents of the vote,


so I am sure he would acknowledge the success of Nicola Sturgeon and


the SNP in being returned victoriously for a third time with


46% of the vote, the highest of any political party in national


elections anywhere currently in Western Europe. Mr Speaker, on the


anti-corruption Summit, has the Prime Minister read the appeals from


Nigerian campaigners who say our efforts are sadly undermined if


countries such as your own are welcoming our corrupt to hide their


ill gotten gains in your luxury homes, department stores, car


dealerships, private schools and anywhere else that will accept their


cash with no questions asked. The role of London's property market as


vessels to conceal stolen wealth has been exposed in court documents,


reports, documentaries and more. What is the Prime Minister going to


do about this? First of all I am delighted to congratulate Nicola


Sturgeon on her victory in the Scottish elections, as I'm sure he


would want to congratulate Ruth Davidson. CHEERING


We have something in common, because of course the SNP have gone from


majority to minority while but conservatives have gone from


coalition to majority. Next week he can get up and asked me how we


getting an ordering some new panda bears for Edinburgh zoo. But the


question he asks about the corruption Summit is absolutely


right. The whole point of holding the summit in London is to say the


action is required by developed as well as developing countries. One of


the steps we are taking to make sure foreign companies that own UK


property have to declare who the beneficial owner is will be one of


the ways we make sure that plundered money from African countries can't


be hidden in London. The Liberal Democrat leader also


raised last week's elections. Mr Tim Farron. Order! Order.


LAUGHTER However irritating the honourable




May be to government backbenchers, he has a right to be heard, and he


will be heard. Mr Tim Farron. I am fantastically grateful to you, Mr


Speaker. LAUGHTER I heard the Prime Minister on two


occasions this afternoon congratulate the numeric London,


Sadiq Khan, and I would like to repeat that myself. He did not


however apologise for his disgraceful and racist campaign the


Conservative Party decided to run in that campaign. Will he take the


opportunity to apologise for dividing communities in order to win


cheap votes? It is a great way to end the session, getting lessons on


clean campaigning from the Liberal Democrats. David Cameron.


The Chancellor George Osborne has been challenged over the accuracy


of claims made by Remain campaigners about the negative consequences


The Treasury Committee homed in on a warning that British


households would be ?4,300 worse off if the UK


The Chancellor stuck by his figures, insisting that Britain would be


poorer and less secure outside the EU.


We've had in the last few days and weeks tens of thousands of jobs that


will go in the city. Every household were soft, we will come back to that


one surely I expect. Interest rates going up, house prices are going to


slump. We've been told there will be an increase in terror threat to this


UK and it has all culminated in heavy breathing by the newspapers.


-- every briefing that led to the headline, a Brexit could lead to


war. This does seem a bit overdone. I'm just wondering whether you are


strengthening weakening your argument on its own terms by going


in for this stuff? I actually completely reject what you just


said, because the claims on the impact on the economy has been


supported by the Bank of England, the OECD, the IMF and every major


credible institution in the wild. The claims on security that have


been made were supported a couple of days ago by the two people who ran


MI6 and MI5 and kept this country safe for many years. The arguments


about the border stability of Europe once every other country in Europe


would echo. So I would say what we have done, on the side of those


arguing to remain in the European Union, is set out credible


opposition is about the very serious consequences for this country, our


economy, our security and our place in the world were we to leave.


The Chancellor was asked to explain predictions that


households would be worse off outside the EU.


?4300, this figure by which households are going to be worse


off, that is a central point about which a lot of noise was made. You


pre-briefed it, which was regrettable, and a number of


newspapers led with it as some hard fact, when in fact you have


explained today that this is a product of modelling, that modelling


is inherently a science,, and you are publishing a range which


reflects the lack of indecision and not setting great stalked by this


single figure, are you, Chancellor? I think the figure is what I


described at the time, the central figure in a range. It enables people


to understand the scale of the loss they would face as a family, and


that the country would face. It is echoed by similar ranges provided by


the OECD and London School of economic. As far as I can see,


nobody has credibly undermined the range we provided.


Jacob Rees-Mogg started by thanking the Chancellor


The man from vote leave was difficult to get in, I am grateful


you showed better response to Parliament on my own friends do.


LAUGHTER Bowled the is my right honourable


friend. These are strange days. -- he is my right honourable friend.


The moment the leaves campaign... The leave campaign has immediately


started to assert that public expenditure would be higher if we


left, that we would impose new tariff barriers to protect certain


industries in the UK... This low tax. This is your report with your


name on it. Your assumption. The whole we're going to be this superb,


low tax, low spending, low tariff economy if we leave the EU has been


somewhat exposed by the nature of the campaign that is being waged at


the moment. I'm about to finish. It leaves the suspicion that the report


has taken absolutely the best for remaining and the worse for leaving.


Chancellor, if I may, a speech made on the 17th of May 2010, you set out


the Office for Budget Responsibility. You said I am the


first chance to remove the temptation to fiddle the figures by


giving up control of the economic and fiscal forecasts. Have you taken


back control so you can fiddle the figures? No, not at all. We are


presenting scenarios here. But you can go and get independent figures.


You're watching Wednesday in Parliament with me, Alicia McCarthy.


The last tussle between the Lords and the Commons ended


when peers finally backed down on the housing bill.


At the start of the day David Cameron told peers


to stop blocking the plans, insisting they were holding up


the delivery a Government manifesto commitment.


Ministers have pledged to build 200,000 starter homes,


to be sold at a discount to younger first-time buyers -


and to allow the sale of some high value council housing to fund plans


giving housing association tenants the right to buy their homes.


In the Commons the housing minister told peers it was time to back down.


This is the third time we have had to vote to confirm a key


manifesto commitment, so I do not intend to detain


I know that I do not have to remind the House of what we said


in our manifesto, as I outlined those commitments last week


The Lords have scrutinised the Bill more than adequately,


and I thank them for their efforts, but this is no longer scrutiny: this


Enough is enough; it is time to stop.


Lord Kerslake's amendment has two levels of problems.


It would impact on our ability to work with local authorities


to deliver the best, most cost-effective,


deals for replacement housing, and that could reduce the funding


for our manifesto commitment to deliver right-to-buy discounts


We received a clear mandate for that at the general election.


The Labour frontbencher said the Government's refusal to accept


Lord Kerslake's clause would "sound the death knell" for social housing.


The Government were forced to make a string of concessions in the House


of Lords and were defeated multiple times, showing the extent


It does nothing to fix the causes of the past six years of failure,


sounds the death knell for social housing and will be a big let-down


for people who are desperate for a home.


Council housing acid should not be used to fund the right to buy for


tenants. We should not be adopting this top-down policy of forcing the


sale of council assets. The legislation was sent to appears


again and the Lordships finally back down but not before the labour front


bench to the highly unusual attempt of condemning attacks on the cross


be here -- peer behind much of the opposition to the bill.


Mr Lewis says of this distinguished and highly respected public servant:


"Not only is Lord Kerslake unelected, he is the owner


of his own home who is trying to stop others from owning theirs".


Quite apart from the offensive language unworthy of a Minister


of the Crown, this disgraceful attack entirely overlooks the role


of the noble Lord, Lord Kerslake, in supporting the voluntary


agreement between the housing association movement,


of which he is a leading member, and the Government in extending


He is owed a prompt and full apology.


Lord Kerslake himself accepted it was time to back down.


In the end, any contest between this House and the other place


That is as it should be: it is elected and we are not.


However, that should not dissuade us from making our case


clearly and forcefully on issues that really matter.


In this case the matters involved matter a great deal.


The underlying concerns about this Bill have been about its fairness,


its commitment to localism and its deliverability.


Most of all it has been about whether it will deliver


the additional houses of all types and tenures that this country


And he argued he'd had to balance political conventions


with what he knew about the lives of real people.


I give just one example of a family with five children living


in a two-bedroom flat less than half an hour from this House.


The five children share a single bedroom.


Will their chances of securing a decent family home be enhanced


or diminished by the passage of this Bill?


I fear we know the answer to that question.


In my view, it is the interests of this family and the many others


like them that should come first in our deliberations in this House.


And with that the Lords backed down on their last legislative


disagreement with the Commons - clearing the way for this session


The Government will publish its White Paper on the future


the shadow Culture Secretary called John Whittingdale to the Commons


to answer an urgent question on the corporation -


and accused the Government of seeking to destroy it.


The recent consultation on the BBC charter -


response to a Government consultation ever - shows that three


quarters of the public want the BBC to remain independent.


The BBC does a brilliant job in informing, educating


and entertaining us all, and four fifths of the public believe that it


Today we read in the newspapers that the Secretary of State intends


He is wrong to do so, and we will oppose any such revision.


He is seeking to turn the BBC away from a mission that has succeeded


brilliantly for 90 years and of which the public approve.


He did not like the results of the public consultation,


so he is simply ignoring them, but the public love the BBC and want


it to carry on doing what it has been doing so well for more


May I finish by giving the Secretary of State a bit of advice?


It is not too late for the Secretary of State to start


He will not be forgiven, and nor will his party,


if he continues on the path, which he has been briefing


to the newspapers, that will lead to the destruction of the BBC


as our much loved national broadcaster and turn it instead


into a mouthpiece of the Government of the day.


We have had an extensive consultation and have


I would simply say to her that they are legitimate questions


for tomorrow when she has had the chance to read the White Paper


rather than for now, when she has read comments


in the newspapers that range from complete fantasy to others that


are quite well informed but certainly not informed by me


We occasionally criticise the BBC for repeats and insist on original


content wherever possible, but I suspect we will have an awful


lot of repeats tomorrow from the Honourable


Lady, because that is when she should ask the questions


and when I shall be happy to provide her with answers.


Members on both sides of the House wait with some trepidation


for the publication tomorrow of the White Paper on the future


of the BBC, but the Government should be in no doubt


about the support for editorially independent public service


broadcasting throughout the United Kingdom.


There often seems to be something of a gulf between some


of the whackier notions floated by the Government via the press


One of the most bizarre must surely be the idea that the BBC should


desist from broadcasting popular programmes at the same time that ITV


broadcasts popular programmes, presumably,


the BBC should show only dull, unpopular programmes at those times.


There are reports that that remains a sticking point


between the Government and the director-general.


Will the Secretary of State reassure us that there is no truth


Following the lefty-lovey hysteria at the weekend,


Friend agree that scrapping the discredited BBC Trust,


asking for more transparency in a publicly funded organisation


and wanting the BBC to be distinctive and impartial is hardly


the end of public service broadcasting as we know it?


Friend, and I think he will find that our proposals certainly do not


represent the end of public service broadcasting.


Indeed, I hope it will be felt that they strengthen public


If constructed, the nuclear power station


in Somerset would be the first new nuclear plant


in Britain for 20 years, and, at ?24 billion,


The project's been on the cards for more than seven years.


But in the last 12 months serious doubts have emerged over


whether the French energy firm EDF is willing to take the financial


There'll be finance from China as well.


In the Lords, a numbers of peers had misgivings over whether the whole


My Lords, there is no economic case for Hinkley Point and there is no


The numbers do not work; neither does the EP reactor.


We need nuclear plants but we do not need this nuclear plant.


In the light of this, for the sake of the UK taxpayer


and the UK energy consumer, is it not time that we pulled


My Lords, I hesitate to disagree with my noble friend but I do


We need Hinkley C and there is a very strong economic case,


as I have indicated, in terms of jobs and the power


I agree that we also need other nuclear plants.


We are of course developing those as well to help us transition away


My Lords, does the Minister recognise that, with all due


respect, we do not need his noble friend to put the boot


The French Cabinet and the board of EDF are quite capable of doing


Is my noble friend aware that the Chinese also have a plan B,


which is to bypass EDF altogether and to build two smaller reactors


on the Hinkley C site, and to do it rather quicker


My Lords, are there not fears about the safety


Is it not a very expensive project and could nuclear provision not be


better arrived at by building smaller nuclear power stations


My Lords, standards of nuclear safety are second to none


The noble Lord is of course right about small modular reactors,


and we are progressing with that, as my right honourable


friend the Chancellor announced in the Budget.


We have had 38 expressions of interest...


My Lords, I am sure the Minister is well aware that the global solar


industry is doubling every two years.


In spite of this Government's withdrawal of subsidies,


there will be sufficient global capacity in 12 years to cover


Does that not make Hinkley Point obsolete?


We will probably not even have it built in 12 years' time.


My Lords, the noble Baroness is right on the growth of renewables


and absolutely right to highlight the importance of that,


as I have been doing repeatedly, without subsidy.


But she is wrong to say that we do not need a back-up,


That is where nuclear is so important and why


The arguments used by those campaigning for the UK to the within


the EU have an echo of those used in the No campaign in the Scottish


referendum, according to the SNP. The subject came up on a regular


round of Scotland questions. That is it for now but join me tomorrow for


the very last day of this session of Parliament. For now, goodbye.


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